Sometimes, as you fight your way through the polluted air of artistic pretension, social media pranks and specious advertising hype, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of honest-to-goodness rock’n’roll.
Yet so it is with Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests. Kim Volkman isn’t a household name, but he is a name to be reckoned with in Melbourne’s booze-laden rock’n’roll dens of vice and iniquity. Setting Suns, Volkman’s latest record with his three-piece outfit, the Whiskey Priests, is a dose of rock’n’roll in its dirtiest, bluesy, raw guise.
The album opens with Poor Tom, a Led Zeppelin track recorded on the cusp of that band’s stratospheric rise, and released posthumously in the early 1980s. Volkman and fellow guitarist Tim Deane wrench every last drop of blues attitude from its festering body; this is the devil’s music, writ large. A few songs later, and Devil’s Coat Tails takes you down the well-travelled road of boogie rock; Only Money is a philosophical, if potentially disingenuous, assessment of our commoditised existence. You can hear Keef chilling in the backroom in Fools Gold; you can strut like an exiled motherfucker in Monkey and reach a higher plane of rock’n’roll consciousness.
And then there’s Volkman’s sensitive side, from the sweet and heavy You and Me, to the album’s dark, brooding and mysterious closing track, Setting Sun. Seven minutes later, and the air is still dense with love, hate, anger and remorse, each grinding blues chord slicing piercing your brain like a evangelist preacher summonsing the devil from a sinner’s tormented soul. Rock’n’roll was always supposed to be this way.